The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 19 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401019-TC-MAC-01; CL 12: 293-295


Chelsea, Monday 18 [19] Octr / 1840—

My dear Mother,

Take a short word from me rather than none. Your dear little Letter1 has just arrived here; many thanks for it! Not one of them writes a more compact little epistle than you do, when once you have your implements about you. I am much obliged always by the pains you take; for it requires energy in you to take to writing: your writing-materials do not, like mine, stand always on a table, ready for seizing!— The poor Box, I calculate, may be jumbling along, down Butcherbeck Brae about this hour, slowly arriving at Scotsbrig. Then you will have an opening of them, and a sorting of the old duds! One thing only I advise: that you do despatch them instantly about their business, and not keep the house lumbered with them.

In Jamie's Letter2 I talked of the household tribulation we were in; owing to the accursed power of drink over our little Teetotum of a maid-servant. All was arranged for her having to go this morning at ten. The poor creature, however, looked so entirely broken-down with woe, hopeless, silent, without any tears, almost without any words, that Jane, after serious consideration, determined to try her yet one other time. It seems to me there is still a possibility, tho' the probability is small. She may last us a few months; she may save her own little soul and body: let her have a fair third chance! We have never had so “comfortable a bit useful creature” about the house. Cheerful as a cricket, handy, quiet, easily supported and dealt with: all right, if it were not that unhallowed malison! It makes one shudder at oneself to see what precipices lie close at the footsteps of us all. Let him that standeth thank God for it.— On the whole, however, the practical fact is that our establishment is once more tranquil, and I once more at my work: a most comfortable fact. Poor Jane has got herself terribly shattered by this week's tumult; must now try to sleep, and rally again. She will write you a Letter before long, she hopes, with all manner of news in it.

There is a brave Article upon me by Aird in the Dumfries Herald of last week: Jack will forward it when he has done with it. A really clever Article; and does not want for extravagant praise at least. They are making a good deal of splutter about me in the Newspapers here in reference to my Quarterly Reviewer, who is an Oxford Priest of eminence, and advances doctrines hateful to many. I sit very quiet here, and generally hear nothing of it till it is all over. “Do thee neither ill nor guid!” The Oxford Priest and the Radical Infidels may take it between them; lay on and spare not, the skins are thick, and as I think both of them will be no worse for a basting!3 Fraser, I dare say, likes it right well; as to me, it is really not my concern but another's.

A joyful Kirn [harvest-home celebration] to you at Scotsbrig. The meal will be welcome. We are sending to Fife for excellent potatoes. Good be with you, dear good Mother. Jane's blessing and mine to one and all.— Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle—

This Letter of Jack's arrived on Saturday night; all goes well with him seemingly.